Jalen Hurts
Jalen Hurts

NFL MVP Watch: Jalen Hurts tightens his grip and Dak Prescott is charging

NFL MVP (Most Valuable Player) is the most prized individual award in pro football, and it provides a tantalising subplot to every single season.

Betting on the MVP race is one of the most volatile markets around, providing weekly swings with one false move potentially ruining a contender’s dreams of picking up the big prize.

One poor performance or one minor injury can wreck everything - continued excellence is the only way to win this bauble.

Let’s look at how the race for NFL MVP stands in 2023, 11 weeks into the regular season.

MVP race and odds in 2023

Week 12 is in the books, and here is the latest MVP picture:

6/4 Jalen Hurts (QB, Philadelphia Eagles): Hurts tightened his grip on the MVP market in 2023 by accounting for five (FIVE) touchdowns in Philly’s thrilling 37-34 overtime defeat of Buffalo on Sunday Night Football. Jalen threw for 200 yards and three scores and rushed for two more as the Eagles improved the best record in football to 10-1. Now come two enormous games - at home to San Francisco and then at Dallas. If Hurts wins both of those, this MVP ballgame may well be over.

10/3 Patrick Mahomes (QB, Kansas City Chiefs): A meeting with the Raiders defense is generally the perfect get-right game for Mahomes, and so it proved once again in Week 12. The reigning MVP threw for 298 yards, two TDs and a 122.8 passer rating as the Chiefs prevailed 31-17 to improve to 8-3. Next, Kansas City heads for Lambeau Field and a showdown with the revitalised Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. Don’t count out Mahomes just yet.

5/1 Lamar Jackson (QB, Baltimore Ravens): The Ravens maintained their position as #1 seed in the AFC with a 20-10 defeat of the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 12, but Lamar’s performance did not wow the layers. He is out to 5/1 after an underwhelming day which saw him complete just 56% of his passes for 177 yards and a score. He was also kept relatively quiet on the ground (39 rushing yards). Now Jackson and Baltimore have a bye before returning to host the other Los Angeles team - the Rams - in Week 14.

6/1 Dak Prescott (QB, Dallas Cowboys): Prescott’s MVP hopes looked cooked after that horrific beatdown at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5, but since then he has bounced back in a serious way. Dak’s epic surge might have peaked during the 45-10 thrashing of Washington on Thanksgiving Day at AT&T Stadium. He threw for 331 yards and 4 TDs, and in the process posted PFF’s highest game grade (a 97) by ANY quarterback since 2007. Next up is Seattle on Thursday Night Football, followed by that massive rematch with the Eagles.

8/1 Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Miami Dolphins): The Dolphins duly knocked off the offensively-challenged Jets 34-13 in the NFL’s first ever Black Friday game, but questions still remain about Tua’s MVP credentials and the Super Bowl hopes of his Miami team. Like Dallas, the Dolphins continue to destroy teams they should destroy, but can they beat the best? Tagovailoa’s showing at MetLife saw his MVP odds take a little walk out to 8s as he threw two picks in an underwhelming 243-yard passing day. Now he heads to Washington for a meeting with the Commanders - another game where the Fish will be heavily favoured.

14/1 Brock Purdy (QB, San Francisco 49ers): The 49ers made it three wins on the spin since that worrying three-game losing skid, but the 31-13 win in Seattle did not do much for Purdy’s MVP credentials. He had a quiet Thanksgiving night, throwing for 209 yards, one TD and one pick. It was the Christian McCaffrey show, and Purdy was a mere game manager. Next up Brock will have to carry more of the load in that potential NFC title game dress rehearsal in Philadelphia on Sunday. That one should be live on Sky Sports, and it should be a beauty.

Best of the rest: If you’re wondering where the non-QBs are, we’ll come onto the grim MVP stats for anybody not playing under center in a moment. But for the record, the lowest non-QB in the betting is San Francisco RB Christian McCaffrey at 28/1.

Previous winners - the stats

If anybody ever tells you that the NFL is not all about the quarterback in 2023, just cite the latest odds for MVP. Then show them the list of previous winners. Nobody can deny it.

The Pro Football Writers of America began voting for MVP in 1975, and since then the men under center have absolutely dominated. In total, some 33 QBs have won the award outright in that time while Brett Favre shared with Barry Sanders in 1997.

Running backs are next best with 11 wins along with that Sanders share. But we haven’t had an RB take the prize since Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings in 2012.

Now - partly thanks to rule changes - it is all about the QB. They have won the last 10 awards and 18 of the last 20. For your reference, here are the last 10:

● 2012: Adrian Peterson (RB, Minnesota)

● 2013: Peyton Manning (QB, Denver)

● 2014: Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay)

● 2015: Cam Newton (QB, Carolina)

● 2016: Matt Ryan (QB, Atlanta)

● 2017: Tom Brady (QB, New England)

● 2018: Patrick Mahomes (QB, Kansas City)

● 2019: Lamar Jackson (QB, Baltimore)

● 2020: Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay)

● 2021: Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay)

● 2022: Patrick Mahomes (QB, Kansas City)

The only two players outside QB and RB to be NFL MVP in the modern era are both generational talents - linebacker Lawrence Taylor (the only defensive winner) in 1986 and San Francisco WR Jerry Rice one year later.

Voting - who chooses the MVP?

This isn’t some nationwide fan vote - it is taken incredibly seriously. As such only 50 sports writers get to cast their vote for NFL MVP.

The big thing to note about the voting is WHEN it happens. Votes are cast at the end of the NFL regular season, so any success in the playoffs and Super Bowl DOES NOT count.

This is all about sustained excellence and brilliance throughout a 17-game season. Hot streaks in January and February do not apply.

When is NFL MVP announced?

NFL MVP is now announced at the league’s annual Awards Ceremony, a glitzy bash which takes place in the host Super Bowl city on the Thursday of game week.

That means the 2023 MVP should be crowned in Las Vegas, Nevada on Thursday February 8, 2024.

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